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About the origin of mosaic and mosaic art and how we connect it with Chanukah

About the origin of mosaic and mosaic art

Mosaic art is characterized by small, mostly flat pieces of colored stone or glass of different colors, also known as tesserae. The earliest examples of mosaic art dates back to 3rd millennium BC in Mesopotamia where they were first found. They consisted of pieces of different pebbles, colored stone as well as ivory. Later on, mosaics were also popular with Roman and Hellenic cultures. Rich mosaics were also found on the floors of many Hellenistic villas and Roman houses stretching all the way from Britain, to some parts of Europe and north Africa including present-day Tunisia.

In fact, the most famous of mosaics were created in Africa, more specifically in modern-day Syria which at the time was the most affluent province of the Roman Empire in Africa.

Mosaic Art in Israel


There have been some major findings of mosaic art in Israel, the latest one being in the Negev. The magnificent mosaic floor found in the Negev near Kibbutz Beit Kama is one of the latest of the many discoveries of ancient mosaic arts in Israel. These meticulously crafted creations date back to the 16th century and are mostly found in synagogues and churches. They usually depict Bible stories, praise the great people of the time and celebrate faith. But in Israel, mosaics are not just the ancient and traditional form of decoration. Jewish mosaic decorations are having a comeback, and today many of them are used to brighten up public spaces and blend the traditional with the modern.

Famous Synagogue/Jewish religious mosaic art


Under the Roman and Byzantine rule Jewish people also used classical mosaics to decorate the floors in synagogues. Many interesting mosaic pieces were found in Galilee and the Judean Desert. One of the most famous recently discovered examples is the Zodiac wheel on the floor of the synagogue in Sepphoris. Sepphoris synagogue was once a refuge place for Jews who had to flee Jerusalem after the 2nd Temple had fallen, which is why this synagogue mosaics are one of the most famous ones. The mosaic covering the ancient Sepphoris was first found in 1993 and are now open to visitors.

In 2003, a synagogue from the 5/6th century was found in the Ionian town of Saranda in present-day Albania. It features intricate Jewish mosaics depicting typical signs associated with Jewish holidays, including a ram's horn, menorah, as well as lemon tree.

Contemporary mosaic art/artists


Mosaic art has found its place in modern art world as well. Contemporary mosaic art brings together the ancient technique with modern-day touch. Contemporary mosaic art is no less interesting and important than it was millennia ago.

There are many artists who enjoy creating intricate mosaics out of different materials. One of the most renowned artists in today’s world of contemporary mosaic art is Gary Drostle, who is currently the President of the British Association for Modern Mosaic. He is an exceptional and award-winning artist whose works can can be seen across the UK and the world.

There are many other prolific mosaic artists, including American artist Sonia King who creates unique, fine art mosaics for galleries, architectural as well as residential spaces.           

Different mediums of mosaic art


Throughout history different craftsmen have used different materials to create mosaics which mostly depended on what they were trying to depict. In addition to that, it also depended on the place they lived and materials they had on their disposal.

By definition, mosaics are the art of creating images by putting together different materials of different colors. Historically, materials that were used include colored pebbles, stone, colored glass, and ivory.

Today, of course, artists can choose to create mosaics from a variety of materials available and can play with colors and shapes combining the ancient and the modern.

In modern-day world, the mediums of contemporary mosaic art can be anything from pebbles to chocolate coins and chocolate gelt! Art is everywhere, and all you need to do is to create! Make Chocolate Gelt Mosaic Art #geltart part of your Chanukah celebration tradition! You can also elaborate your #geltart with dreidels for more depth and variety of colors. Let your imagination spin! Fun for the whole family. #lovechocolategelt



Published on August 8, 2016
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